Lithuania is the sort of country that continuously exceeds your expectations. It’s one you really have to take at face value; you’ll never find anywhere else like it.
Starting in Vilnius, truth be told, few people ever look past it. We’re here to tell you, you should. Beyond the cobblestone streets and thriving subculture of younger people, you have one of the most beautifully underestimated countries in the world.
As a small country, Lithuania is easy to explore with some of the best roads in Eastern Europe and the best finds on them.
From verdant greenery in giant national parks like Auskaistia to dreamy Baltic coastlines like the Curonian Spit, you’ll find endless outdoor adventures with cosy resort towns like Palanga. Away from nature, Vilnius can seem like a small country: laden with a history that is overlapped by modernity, the city speaks for itself while Kaunas will gently remind you that while most forget about Lithuania, the country is making its mark in its own way.
In this guide, we’ll open the door to what’s possible on a trip to Lithuania, and leave our Local Experts to do the rest. Let’s uncover what’s in store;
When to Go on a Tour of Lithuania
The best time to visit Lithuania is when the weather is at its warmest which is spring in late April and into summer which ends in August. With this in mind, Lithuania’s positioning in the Baltics means that the weather can be unpredictable so it’s best to prepare for everything.
From September, the temperatures get lower and lower with the first snowfall generally expected in November. From then on, Lithuanian is known for its less than favourable weather until spring comes along once more.
Places to Visit on Your Lithuania Travels
A cosmopolitan city of contrasts, Vilnius will take through the twists and turns of its history and plunge you into its thriving present.
A walking tour of Vilnius will lead you through snippets of the city’s history that remain, showing traces of the 19th and 20th century. In its old town, you’ll find some of northern Europe’s finest examples of Baroque architecture in the traditional Jewish areas and you’ll hear tales of one of the few thriving Jewish communities in Europe before World War II.
Vilnius is a city that captivates many with its beauty where wandering its fairytale-like cobbled streets and people watching from a quaint cafe is a must!
Panemune Scenic Route
Once used as a trading route between Lithuania and Prussia, the Panemune scenic route is littered with castles that echo its battle ridden past. Weaving along with the Nemunas River from Kaunas, hill forts and castles appear upon every turn leading eventually to the Baltic Sea as you’ll see on this 5-day Kaliningrad from Lithuania tour.
This route presents many opportunities to stop and explore the castles, manors and national parks along the way, only some of the older castles were used for battling purposes, most were only ever used as residences, with some now operating as schools and museums.
Sitting in a spectacular position on Lake Galve and surrounded by lush forest, Trakai Castle is a glorious 14th-century Gothic structure that dominates one of the lake’s 21 islands that dot the peninsula. The castle which has changed very little since it was built, was thought to have been the capital of Lithuania for Grand Duke Gediminas since it was completed.
The town itself takes a backseat to the orange-tinted glory of the castle, home to Karaite Jewish people who have settled here, among other places in Eastern Europe, since Medieval times.
Day trips to Trakai Castle from Vilnius are an incredibly scenic escape from the capital as you’ll see in this 4-day scenic Lithuanian experience.
Curonian Spit National Park
Stretching from the Curonian Lagoon to the Baltic Sea and bordering Russia Kaliningrad, the Curonian Spit is nearly 100 kilometres of pine forests and sand dunes.
This is a truly unique ecosystem that warrants exploring; one road takes you through untouched nature only to be interrupted by quiet fisherman’s villages and beaches that encourage you to stay a moment longer like in this 7-day Lithuanian experience.
Of the Curonian Spit’s must-visit locations, the quaint Nida village, Palanga resort town, Parnidis sundial and Naglai Nature Reserve present opportunities to walk around and witness this unique part of Lithuania.
Kaunas Walking Tour
Perhaps one of Europe’s most underestimated cities, Kaunas is Lithuania’s second-largest city. Once the capital of the country, when it almost doubled in size, Kaunas has traces of its quiet history that manifest themselves through examples of Art Deco design that unapologetically dominate the cityscape. Still somehow Kaunas remains off the tourist radar.
However, what is most interesting about the city is its hushed rise to recognition that is becoming more apparent today, you can see it for yourself on this 10-day classic tour of the Baltic states. Kaunas is a city of design, and always has been, punctuated by outstanding landmarks and a rich history to match – it’s hard to see why it has been left off of the Lithuania tourist map.
Klaipeda and Rusne
Centred by a dreamy old town, Klaipeda is your typical Eastern European port city with an edge, sitting on the cusp of the Curonian Spit.
Throughout the entirety of the city’s history, Klaipeda has been handed over borderlines between Lithuania and East Prussia so many times that to this day, many still refer to the city as Memel, its German name. With so much back and forth, comes an interesting mix of historical references in its old town that you’ll witness on a Lithuania trip. Putting its history behind it, Klaipeda is known for its proximity to the resort town of Palanga and is an interesting alternative to visit in the area.
Rusne is a border island town in the Nemunas Delta. Sitting on the Russian border, Rusne enjoys a quiet atmosphere where you’ll never feel too far away from the water. The town has slowly grown in popularity for its birding and fishing opportunities thanks to its abundant natural surrounds and small-town charm.
Aukstaitija National Park
Get lost in the wild of Aukstaitija National Park, where you’ll attempt to navigate over 126 lakes between pine trees, rolling hills and deciduous forests. Aukstaitija National Park is a bird lover paradise where storks and eagles fly, and elk, deer and wild boar roam in great numbers thanks to the park’s bountiful ecosystem.
With so much to explore on a trip to Lithuania, it’s better to tackle the park in small chunks, among the most visited places, are Trainiškis Wildlife Sanctuary and Ažvinčiai Forest Reserve where some of the oldest trees are found, Lake Lūšiai for some Lithuanian folklore and Ice Hill, where seven lakes will appear in front of your from this spectacular viewpoint.
How to Get Around Lithuania
Ideal for budget travellers, bus services in Lithuania are cheap, affordable and fast with daily services taking you across the country and to neighbouring countries in the Baltics (all within a comfortable distance).
While the train services will limit you to Lithuania’s cities, the services are fast, convenient and most of all, remain cheap. Should you wish to extend your Lithuania trip to reach other Baltic countries, Eurail journeys are most affordable when booked in advance with our Local Experts in Lithuania.
Private Driver and Car Rental
Should you wish to do your very own trip to Lithuania, car rental costs are by far the most affordable compared to other European countries, with well-maintained roads. Lithuania is quite a small country in both size and population, making getting around easier than ever.
If doing a self-drive trip seems stressful to you, hiring a car and driver will offer the same freedom without the hassle, only made easier when booking with our Local Experts in Lithuania.
Where to Stay in Lithuania…
When You Visit Vilnius
A surprisingly big city, while in Vilnius, it’s important to stay in the area that shows off the city at its best. For first-timers, this is in the old town, where the majority of Vilnius’ historical references and quirky alternative bars and cafes lie.
You can choose whether to stay in the very centre of the city or by the Gate of Dawn to the south. Alternatively, there is Šnipiškės which is separated from the old town by the river yet still within walking distance.
When You Are in Klaipeda
Hugging the coastline that borders the Curonian Spit, Klaipeda accommodation sits comfortably in the European budget with a small selection of options for everyone. Most travellers coming to Klaipeda will be looking to travel by car into the national park; however, if you are not, staying in the city centre comes highly recommended to be close to all the seafood restaurants this town is known for.
When You Visit Kaunas
To be at the heart of Lithuania’s city of design, it’s best to stay in the city centre, close to the railway station, where all of the attractions that you need to tick off are located.
For those looking to have a slightly more lively exploration of the city, this will also put you within reaching distance of the nightlife, as well as a host of great restaurants.
What to Eat on a Trip to Lithuania
Cold beetroot soup is a staple in any household across Eastern Europe and is essential while in Lithuania, however, only if you like beetroot. If you are not a fan, you may not enjoy the earthy flavours of this healthy cold soup.
The guilty pleasure of all Lithuanians, kepta duona is a portion of thinly sliced rye breadsticks that are rubbed generously with garlic before being deep-fried quickly to give them their crunchy texture. Traditionally served with mayonnaise or sprinklings of cheese, kepta duona is a go-to bar snack.
Named after its zeppelin shape, cepelinai is another snack of choice among locals, considered one of the national dishes of the country. Cepelinai are small potato dumplings filled with mincemeat, a simple dish with added flavour from a light sprinkling of dill. Once again, cepelinai are best enjoyed with a cold local beer.
As a country with so many cold months of the year, hearty ingredients naturally become a staple. These patties are no exception. A simple dish, bulviniai blynai are deep-fried potato patties that offer the perfect addition to any meal, traditionally served with sour cream or applesauce.
Unique Festivals in Lithuania
Palanga Smelt Festival
The smelliest of Lithuania’s festivals, the Palanga Smelt Festival is dedicated to the town’s renowned specialties: smoked, pickled or fried fish. Over two days in February, at the height of Lithuania’s fishing season, Palanga’s central streets are filled with fishermen and their vendors, serving local fish prepared in a variety of ways to maximise flavour.
As this is a cold time of year, trying seafood soup is essential while catching this festival!
Inspiring the city in the height of summer, Vilnius Festival is one of the country’s most highly reputed classical music festivals that showcases Lithuania’s traditional music with local talent from around the country. Taking place over two weeks in June, the festival attracts classical music lovers from across Europe.
Klaipeda Sea Festival
As Klaipeda’s largest festival, this is one not to miss. The festival is dedicated to the bounty of the Baltic Sea and covers everything from boat races to street parades, art and music that is all inspired by the water.
To keep everyone energised, Klaipeda Sea Festival is known for its fresh seafood food and local beers that can be found at the street market along with a variety of goods that can be purchased to commemorate the occasion.
Feast of Saint John
The Feast of Saint John is the most important festival in the country. If you truly want to experience Lithuanian traditions, there aren’t any older than this.
The Feast of Saint John is the celebration of the on-coming summer solstice, a festival that dates back to Lithuania’s Pagan days when nature was considered a deity. This very special event is commemorated with lots of colour and ceremonial floating of flowers down the Neris River.
Things to Know Before You Go to Lithuania
Visa: Lithuania is part of the Schengen region making travelling within this region very easy. If you require a Schengen visa, they are valid for 90 days.
Currency: As part of Europe, the currency in Lithuania is the Euro. At the time of writing, April, 2021, 1 Euro is equal to 1.17 USD.
Language: People in Lithuania speak Lithuanian. However, many speak both Russian, particularly elders, and English is spoken among younger people.
Cultural Notes: Some put it down to the terrible weather, Lithuanians are not known for their happiness. Once you have a beer or two with a local, you’ll get through the stern exterior
Budget: As a relatively new popular country to travel to, Lithuania is one of the cheapest European countries to travel in.
Important: The legal age to consume alcohol in Lithuania is 20, even when the young adult is accompanied by their parents.
Don’t: Avoid whistling at any time, it is considered extremely rude in Lithuania.
Looking for a Trip to Lithuania?
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